When my body stopped tumbling, everything was silent. Eerily silent. No crying. No screaming. No moaning. No more breaking glass. I wasn’t even sure I was breathing until a pitiful whimper escaped from somewhere deep inside of me, “Mom? Dad?” The sound of my own voice scared me. I started to cry. That was when I felt the throbbing in my head. It felt like someone had put a vice around my skull and was slowly winding it tighter and tighter. Within seconds, the pressure was unbearable.
That was when I realized that my feet were above my head. I was wedged inside the car upside down. I felt around for the door’s handle. Instead, I found an opening where I guessed one of the windows had been. My hands groped the edges of the hole. Something sharp poked my palms, and a stinging pain shot through my fingers and up my arms. My hands turned wet and slippery. My breath caught in my throat as I realized I was bleeding. I forced my body through the gap in the wreckage and rolled onto the ground.
The throbbing in my head subsided, and I stared into the darkness. I half wondered if I was blind. Everything was black. I couldn’t see a shadow, the outline of our car…nothing. I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t feel the ground. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs. I just felt numb. No, not even numb. Detached.
I felt like crying again, but I couldn’t. Was I dead? I suddenly began searching through my consciousness for a memory of what had happened. I didn’t understand where I was. Panic shot through me. I felt the desperate need to escape.
That was when the first shadow appeared. It was just a pinpoint at first, a dark gray mass in the abyss surrounding me, but it grew larger and began to pulsate. I felt an inexplicable wave of terror pass through me. This thing was headed toward me, and it made my mind race with dread. I had no idea what the shadow was; still, I was scared of it.
The shadow triggered a memory of my parents at the dinner table. “When ya die, Deirdra,” I heard my father say, “all of your past comes back ta ya, and ya must answer for the good or evil ya’ve done.”
“Ya’re wrong, Thomas,” my mother had corrected. “When ya die, the energy of your consciousness leaves your body. There is no judgment, just death.”
I had scoffed at their theorizing. However, as I lay staring at the growing shadow approaching me, I anxiously began to speculate on who was right.
The feeling in my limbs suddenly returned, and every one of my muscles began to shake with fear. It was then that I remembered tomorrow was my birthday. I would have been seventeen.
Regina M. Geither was raised on stories of legends, curses, and all things paranormal. Today, she is a teacher, writer, and published author of the middle grade short story, Swamp Stallion, part of McGraw-Hill’s Imagine It! reading series. Her most recent publication is the young adult paranormal fantasy novel, Island of Tory, a tale of Celtic myth and Irish curses. Along with being an intermediate school teacher, Regina teaches adults novel writing at Polaris Career Center. She resides in northern Ohio and is currently working on the sequel to Island of Tory, Cursing Stone. Find out more at www.reginamgeither.com.
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